Full transcript of "Face the Nation," Oct. 29. 2023

Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Oct. 29. 2023

During this episode of “Face the Nation” hosted by Margaret Brennan:

  • said Monday that the US will continue to support Ukraine and its efforts to defend itself against Russian aggression.

    On Monday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the United States will continue backing Ukraine and its attempts to protect itself from Russian aggression.

  • General Joseph Votel   
  • J.D. Vance, a Republican Senator from Ohio

  • The director-general of the International Committee of Red Cross is Robert Mardini.

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Fac the Nation.”    

Welcome to Face the Nation. I am Margaret Brennan, and it is a pleasure to have you here this morning in Washington.

In the past 48 hours, the conflict between Israel and Hamas has intensified significantly. The humanitarian conditions in Gaza have also worsened. Aid trucks have not been able to enter for several days. Today, some communication systems were repaired after a blackout that began on Friday.

In recent events, there have been additional assaults by militia groups supported by Iran against American troops stationed in Iraq and Syria. The Eisenhower carrier strike group has entered the Mediterranean Sea and will unite with other assets from the U.S. Navy that are already present in the area.

This morning, we start off in Tel Aviv with our correspondent Charlie D’Agata.

(Begin VT)

According to footage from the Israeli Defense Forces, the second phase of the war, referred to as “Operation Protective Edge” by the Israeli government, started with a intense air attack followed by heavy artillery fire. Tanks and soldiers on foot also entered Gaza, but unlike previous instances, they did not retreat. While Israeli officials have not officially labeled it as an invasion, the actions suggest otherwise.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as Israel’s second struggle for independence.


According to Charlie D’Agata, the conflict in Gaza will be challenging and prolonged, and they are prepared for it.

He addressed the question of whether the current situation in Gaza, which aid organizations consider a catastrophic crisis, could be classified as a war crime.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, delivering a speech in a foreign tongue.

Charlie D’Agata stated that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is recognized as the most ethical military force globally, as they make every effort to prevent harm to those who are not directly involved.

However, every airstrike and artillery attack results in increased fatalities and devastation for over two million individuals who have limited options for seeking refuge. According to the Health Ministry controlled by Hamas, the death toll has surpassed 8,000, with approximately half of the victims being children.


Charlie D’Agata reports that a grieving mother pleaded, “Let me hold him in my arms.”

There is apprehension for the individuals currently detained in Gaza. Prior to the recent series of airstrikes and ongoing intense bombardment, there was mounting worry for over 200 hostages who remain trapped in Gaza. This poses a significant challenge for special forces teams tasked with rescuing hostages, according to former Mossad intelligence chief Haim Tomer.

Can they use their intelligence or resources in the tunneling system amidst the chaos to determine the location of the hostages?

HAIM TOMER (Former Head of Israeli Intelligence): To be completely honest and straightforward, it is a nearly impossible task. The task of locating hostages through intelligence-gathering is extremely challenging and bordering on the impossible.

CHARLIE D’AGATA: Hamas has still been able to retaliate, missiles hitting a Tel Aviv neighborhood.

The Israeli government’s stated objective is to completely eradicate Hamas and retrieve the hostages, but their long-term strategy remains uncertain.

Tzipi Livni, a former Vice Prime Minister.

What is the appearance of Gaza following a land invasion?

TZIPI LIVNI, former Israeli Vice Prime Minister, suggests considering the current situation and planning for the future rather than waiting until the ground maneuver operation is complete. This includes looking beyond the immediate future to the next year and even the next decade.

It is evident that Israel has no desire to retake control of Gaza.

Charlie D’Agata states that the duration and intensity of Israel’s current phase of the war will play a crucial role in determining if it remains localized to this small area of the Middle East or if it spreads and escalates throughout the region, potentially resulting in further casualties.

(End VT)

The United Nations has expressed concern that the situation in Gaza is deteriorating, with reports of thousands of individuals looting warehouses and distribution centers for essential items such as wheat, flour, and hygiene supplies. This was reported by Charlie D’Agata to Margaret this morning.

Margaret Brennan: Let’s turn to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan for insight.

Hello Jake, good morning to you.

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser for the United States, greeted Margaret with a friendly “Good morning.”

Can the U.S. confirm the survival of the estimated 500-600 Americans in Gaza during the 23 days of bombing, and if they are being held as hostages?

Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, stated that we are in frequent communication with the majority of Americans currently located in Gaza.

We cannot reword.

Currently, Margaret, the issue is that the Egyptians are willing to allow Americans and other foreigners to leave Gaza. The Israelis have no problem with this. However, Hamas is preventing their departure and making a list of requests. We are working to find a solution that will allow all Americans in Gaza to safely leave.

Could you discuss with me Israel’s explanation of its mission to the U.S. government?

According to their military, on Saturday they claimed responsibility for the death of a Hamas leader who was in charge of the drone and paraglider attacks, including the brutal assault on October 7. They had previously announced the killing of the commander responsible for the massacre at kibbutz Nirim and another important Hamas leader.

Have they informed you of the specific criteria for declaring this mission a success?

According to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, their primary goal in this ongoing conflict is to prevent Hamas from posing a threat to Israel.

However, the specific milestones will ultimately be determined by Israel, as this is their military operation. They will be the ones making the decisions. We will also continue to ask challenging questions, just as we would for our own military operations, Margaret.

What are the specific goals? How are the methods aligned with the goals? And how will this change over time? This is a discussion we have been having and will continue in the coming days.

Margaret Brennan: It appears that there is no specific plan in place for the endgame.

Is it possible that there will be a complete Israeli military takeover of Gaza, or is that not being considered?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, I will let the Israeli Defense Forces speak to what their operational planning is. And I’m not going to characterize it on television today.

What I will say is that the United States has been very focused on a core challenge here, which is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. They’re hiding behind civilians. They’re hiding among civilians. They’re putting rockets and other terrorist infrastructure in civilian areas.

This places an extra weight on the Israeli military. However, it does not relieve them of their duty to differentiate between terrorists and innocent civilians and to safeguard the lives of civilians during this military action. This applies to both airstrikes and ground operations. We regularly discuss this with Israeli officials.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I comprehend the situation, but I am also aware of the significant loss of life in Gaza.

President Biden recently expressed doubt in the accuracy of the statistics reported by Palestinian authorities in Gaza. However, I am curious to know when the United States will take a stance on the need for a reduction in violence.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, first, President Biden was making a straightforward point, which is that the particular institution, the Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, we can’t take what Hamas says at face value.

We have emphasized multiple times that numerous Palestinian civilians have lost their lives in this conflict, which is a tragic occurrence. Each and every one of these deaths is a tragedy, and it is important to protect the lives of all civilians, regardless of their nationality.

It is crucial for Israel to differentiate between targeting terrorists in order to eliminate those who pose a threat to Israel and targeting innocent civilians. This is both a duty and a responsibility for Israel.

We will persist in urging them on, and we also support the idea of temporary breaks for humanitarian purposes, such as freeing hostages and providing aid. Our efforts remain focused on achieving this goal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand, Jake. I have heard this before. Some of the language may seem conflicting, but Secretary Blinken stated that even a brief halt in airstrikes would be advantageous to Hamas. He made this statement on our program last week.

After a few days, he visited the U.N. and urged for a humanitarian ceasefire to be taken into account. However, the U.S. voted against a humanitarian truce at the U.N.

What is the specific demand of the Biden administration? Various organizations, including the pope, the World Health Organization, and the U.N., are urging for a temporary cessation of violence.

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, stated that many individuals are demanding an end to Israeli military actions against terrorists, with no exceptions. This includes halting Israel’s pursuit of those responsible for the recent attack, which is considered the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Despite ongoing rocket attacks and aggression towards Israel, there are calls for a complete stop to any military action.

We believe that Israel has the right to protect itself from terrorist attacks. This differs from Secretary Blinken’s statement, which suggested a temporary ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, such as ensuring the safe release of hostages.

Is it only a matter of hours?

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, stated that President Biden and his entire team are putting in a lot of effort to secure the release of the hostages.

We will persist in our efforts to achieve this goal. I cannot specify a specific timeline. However, I can confirm that, considering the number of hostages, it will likely take longer than just a few hours to secure their release. We are actively striving to secure their release.

Likewise, Secretary Blinken’s statement on the benefits of a halt in hostilities for Hamas is based on truth. There are numerous intricate factors at play in this situation. While a temporary ceasefire would facilitate the release of hostages, it is likely that Hamas will also seek to exploit this opportunity to their advantage.

Israel is currently grappling with these issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In response to that, Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, stated: “We will consider the opinions of our allies, but ultimately make decisions based on what is in our best interest.”

Jake, is there currently any difference between the U.S. and the Netanyahu government’s views?

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, and I have discussions similar to those between friends. We tackle difficult topics such as humanitarian aid and differentiating between terrorists and innocent civilians. We also discuss Israel’s approach to their military actions.

Multiple times a day, discussions occur between the president and the prime minister, as well as with the secretary of state, secretary of defense, myself, and other senior members of our administration. We have open and direct conversations where we share our unfiltered opinions, and we will continue to do so.

However, as I am currently in a public setting, I will simply state that the United States will clearly communicate its principles and beliefs, including the importance of protecting innocent human life.


Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, stated that our guidance to Israel will remain confidential.

Margaret Brennan: While I recognize that this is ultimately another country’s decision, it should be noted that the United States provides over $3 billion in aid to Israel annually.

Some of the weapons used in Gaza are bought or assisted in being bought with money from American taxpayers. This may give the impression, whether intentional or not, that the U.S. supports all of Israel’s actions in this conflict.

Do you want the military to use less aggressive tactics or more calculated strategies?

According to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, when the United States provides weapons to a foreign country, such as Israel or any other, we ask for and expect an assurance that those weapons will be used in adherence to the laws of armed conflict.

We strive for responsibility to confirm that is indeed true. We will persist in doing so. We will also constantly work to ensure that vital humanitarian aid reaches those who require it.

However, at the core of it all, the stance of the United States, as expressed by President Biden, is centered on protecting civilians and providing them with essential resources and medication. We condemn the senseless loss of innocent lives, regardless of their nationality, whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, or any other. Our hearts are heavy with sorrow for every life lost and we will continue to mourn them.

Will that be the message you convey to Saudi Arabia’s defense minister during your meeting tomorrow?

I am aware that there are several Arab allies who are worried about the current level of violence in Gaza.

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, has been in discussions with our Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia, regarding the ongoing situation in Gaza.

We pay close attention to their thoughts. We also express our own point of view. Additionally, we will have the chance to thoroughly examine not only the current situation, but also the potential future, as President Biden stated in the Rose Garden last week that we cannot revert back to October 6.

This indicates that Hamas is no longer able to inflict terror on Israel. However, it also highlights the importance of creating a political future for the Palestinian people, with two separate states for both populations. The Palestinians have the right to live in security, respect, and fairness. Our efforts will be directed towards achieving this goal.

The involvement and accountability of Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, is also significant in this matter.

Can you confirm if you think Iran has been deterred currently before you leave?

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, believes that the United States will honor its commitments and carry out its stated actions.

We previously mentioned that if our military was under attack, we would take action. We have followed through on our promise. If the situation arises again, we will continue to take action. We are constantly watchful as we have noticed an increase in potential threats towards our troops in the surrounding area and a heightened possibility of this conflict expanding to other areas. We are actively working to discourage and stop this from happening.

But I’m not going to predict what the future brings, other than to say that, if we are attacked, we will respond.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Jake Sullivan.

Face the Nation will return in 60 seconds. Please continue watching.


Margaret Brennan: Next, we will speak with General Joseph Votel, who previously commanded CENTCOM and supervised operations in the Middle East.

Welcome, General. We are glad to have you here.

I would like to continue our discussion about the national security adviser’s remarks. He stated, “The United States is facing increased threats against our forces and a higher risk of the conflict spreading.”

What are the specific areas of concern for you?

“Former U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel (Ret.) here. Thank you and good morning, Margaret. It’s a pleasure to join you.”

I am worried that any mistake could escalate the situation. If there were to be an attack on an American installation, whether it be military, diplomatic, or commercial, resulting in casualties and deaths, it would greatly impact our decision-making process.

Furthermore, there is a possibility of a larger-scale assault from the Iranian threat network, whether it involves Hezbollah or militia groups in Syria that are aligned with Iran. These factors could potentially escalate the conflict.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There have already been 20 militia attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq. There are about 19 servicepeople who suffered from traumatic brain injuries. One contractor died.

Can you comprehend the extent of aggression?

General Joseph Votel stated that it is evident that Iran is responsible for this.

The elements within Iraq and to some degree in Syria, belonging to them, are carrying out these attacks. As the national security advisor stated, it is crucial that we hold them responsible for their actions. Therefore, it is essential to not only react, but to respond directly and assertively.

Our ultimate goal is to force these parties and Iran, the instigator, to immediately cease these actions.

According to the Israeli prime minister, the current conflict is expected to continue for a significant amount of time and is currently in its second stage.

Jake Sullivan recently stated that the United States is currently inquiring about the specific objectives.

Can you explain the current actions of the IDF in Gaza?

General Joseph Votel stated that the IDF’s objective is to eliminate Hamas’ ability to engage in war.

The target locations include command-and-control centers, logistics facilities, headquarters, and potential sites where Hamas could launch missile or rocket attacks on Israel.

In my opinion, it is evident that the Israeli military’s objective is to eliminate Hamas’ ability to engage in war.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should they cease capturing Gaza City?

General Joseph Votel stated that they will need to evaluate their progress once again.

The majority of the current focus appears to be on the northern region of Gaza, specifically around Gaza City. It is widely acknowledged that this is the main area where Hamas operates.

It appears that their actions have been specifically targeted towards areas where Hamas is located. It seems they are taking an incremental approach and have been gradually increasing their forces in the past few days.

As expected, like any military organization, they must evaluate their progress as they carry out their operations.

Margaret Brennan expressed worry about a separate situation outside of Gaza.

On Wednesday, President Biden expressed concern over extremist settlers in the West Bank attacking Palestinians in areas where they have the right to be.

One of Israel’s government ministers, Ben-Gvir, has video of him arming Israeli civilians with M16 and M4 assault rifles. How concerned are you about an uptick in violence in the West Bank?

General Joseph Votel stated that the issue at hand is related to the previous discussion about errors in judgment.

I mean, this – this – this, it’s a – it’s a tinderbox. And so, when you have people that are scared, they have weapons, they’re trying to protect themselves, then the chances for something going wrong in this, I think, increase, so yes.

The rhetoric surrounding the vulnerability of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has been strong, with Islamic movements making them targets. This is an ordinary but critical situation that could escalate rapidly.

General Votel, thank you for your insights and analysis.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL: Thank you. Good to be…

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will return shortly, please stay tuned.


Margaret Brennan: The House has resumed business after a 22-day break.

Our Scott MacFarlane takes a closer look at the new speaker, Louisiana’s Mike Johnson.

(Begin VT)

In only his fourth term, Scott Macfarlane has been propelled out of obscurity and the backbench of the U.S. House.

Representative Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, declares that the House of Representatives is once again operating and is sending a strong message to those who oppose freedom globally.


Scott Macfarlane: The Louisiana congressman’s rise to become the second in command to the presidency…

Can we proceed with governing immediately, Representative Mike Johnson?


Scott Macfarlane’s absence during the vote was both sudden and unexpected, causing his wife to miss it.

Representative Mike Johnson explained that the individual in question is not present due to not being able to secure a timely flight, as the situation arose unexpectedly.


Scott Macfarlane’s rapid ascension to the highest position in Congress overnight…

Representative Mike Johnson stated that the group will be operating efficiently like a well-functioning machine.

SCOTT MACFARLANE: … also prevented the traditional deep dive into his career and his positions before he took the gavel.

Representative Mike Johnson stated that people often wonder about his opinions on various topics. His response is to encourage them to read a Bible, as it reflects his worldview and beliefs.

Scott MacFarlane is an attorney who specializes in constitutional law and identifies as an evangelical Christian. He used to be a talk radio host and has consistently taken a staunch stance against abortion rights for many years.

Representative Mike Johnson asks about the severe physical harm and killing inflicted on unborn children.

Seventeen years prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned, Scott Macfarlane penned an editorial drawing parallels between abortion and the Holocaust, criticizing the judicial system for allowing abortions similar to Hitler’s actions. He has consistently opposed gay rights, viewing it as inherently unnatural, and has voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Following the 2020 presidential election, Johnson played a significant role in congressional attempts to reverse the results. He not only voted against certifying the results, but also rallied House Republicans to support a lawsuit in Texas that contested the outcome, while promoting a conspiracy theory.

Representative Mike Johnson stated that there are concerns about a software system used nationwide that originated in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez’s leadership.

After becoming the speaker, Johnson’s comments on the matter have decreased, according to Scott MacFarlane.

Can you please explain your role in the attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, Mr. Johnson?


“Be quiet! Be quiet!”

If the Republican party remains in control next November, Johnson will preside over the House during the next certification on January 6, 2025.

The defection of Kevin McCarthy has provided him with support.

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida stated that the establishment is losing power while the “Make America Great Again” movement is gaining momentum. He believes that the replacement of Kevin McCarthy with “MAGA” Mike Johnson highlights the true influence of this movement within the Republican Party. It is important to pay attention to this shift.

SCOTT MACFARLANE: And those same defectors are the ones open to shutting down the government if their demands aren’t met. The new speaker now has just 19 days to keep that from happening.

(End VT)

Speaker Johnson expressed a desire to separate aid for Israel and aid for Ukraine. This could jeopardize immediate aid for Ukraine as there are numerous Republicans who are against it.

Margaret, in order for him to be successful, he would require a significant number of Democrats to back it. Additionally, bills that receive substantial support from Democrats are a contributing factor to the absence of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s a valid observation.

Scott, thank you.

We will return shortly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We will return shortly with an extended conversation featuring Ohio Republican Senator J.D. Vance.

Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Hello and welcome to Face the Nation.

Senator J.D. Vance, a Republican from Ohio, is now here with us in the studio.

Hello and it’s great to see you in person.

I appreciate the invitation, thank you for having me.

Senator, I have many topics I would like to discuss with you.

J.D. VANCE: Certainly.

Margaret Brennan: Let’s begin by discussing one of the major topics we’ve been addressing, which is the numerous national security risks currently facing the United States.

J.D. VANCE: Absolutely.

I’m unable to reword.

J.D. VANCE: We place significant importance on the border, naturally. However, my suggestion is that we separate the topics and have separate discussions on each one of these issues, particularly the Israel issue for a few reasons.

Firstly, Israel is in urgent need of assistance. Secondly, there is a strong agreement across party lines that we should provide support to Israel. Lastly, we are currently overextended. The president’s budget request shows a lack of understanding of the issues facing our country. We do not have the resources to sustain involvement in a three-front war. Our production capabilities are insufficient and we must prioritize how we allocate our resources. This requires a thorough debate in Congress, rather than combining proposals and pretending we can address everything simultaneously. This is simply not feasible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let’s break down what you just said, as you mentioned the same specific amount for Israel that President Biden is mentioning.

J.D. Vance: Certainly.

Margaret Brennan: The amount is approximately $14 billion. However, you have eliminated humanitarian aid to Gaza. Leader McConnell appeared on this show last Sunday and he is in favor of the package.

This is what he stated.

(Begin VT)

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican, expressed concern about sending funds to Hamas. However, he acknowledged that there are legitimate humanitarian needs for the non-Hamas population in Gaza, who have been negatively impacted by the actions of Hamas.

(End VT)

Margaret Brennan reported that 50% of Gaza’s population consists of children.

J.D. Vance: Definitely.

Margaret Brennan: Why do you believe the United States is unable to fulfill Leader McConnell’s suggestion of providing aid to them?

J.D. Vance stated that while Leader McConnell is correct in acknowledging the presence of innocent individuals in Gaza, it is important to consider the limitations of our actions. It is crucial to be realistic about who will receive humanitarian aid in a situation where Hamas holds control over the entire area. Delivering a significant amount of aid may ultimately benefit the children in Gaza, but there is also a risk of it falling into the hands of Hamas fighters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the United Nations, the Red Cross, all the international organizations who have been there and administering and frankly stepping up because the government has failed the Palestinian people in the words of a lot of analysts on both sides of the aisle.

J.D. VANCE: While there has been some progress, I believe there is still ample evidence to suggest that a significant portion of the aid provided by international organizations to Gaza ends up in the wrong hands. This is a concern that many of us who are critical of the president’s approach have. We do not want to inadvertently support both sides of the same conflict – Hamas and Israel – with our tax dollars. Most importantly, it is simply foolish.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it’s not aid to Hamas. It’s aid to the Palestinian people.

J.D. VANCE: Sure. And I – and look it –

MARGARET BRENNAN: One million of them are minors.

J.D. VANCE: If I could make a wish and provide assistance to Palestinian children, I would. However, considering the current situation, I believe that redirecting resources to Gaza could potentially end up in the wrong hands.

Margaret Brennan: Do you have confidence in any of the current international organizations conducting those actions?

According to J.D. Vance, I have doubts about Hamas’s reliability on the field. Additionally, I believe that while some international organizations may have good intentions, others may have conflicting interests. Therefore, we cannot automatically assume that funds directed towards these organizations will solely benefit children and not fighters.

Margaret Brennan: You have expressed strong criticism of President Biden’s handling of Iran and its proxy forces.

J.D. Vance agrees.

Margaret Brennan discusses the dangers they pose to our soldiers.

J.D. VANCE: Affirmative.

Can you predict what would happen next? As a senator, would you approve the president’s decision to use military force against Iran?

J.D. VANCE: Currently, no. It is my belief that we should focus on reducing tension. However, we must establish clear boundaries. If the Iranians engage in hostile actions against American soldiers or escalate the situation –

MARGARET BRENNAN: They have done so on numerous occasions.

J.D. VANCE: If they are instigating the conflict, we must be prepared to retaliate. Some militia groups have already launched attacks. We have responded appropriately and proportionately. If they attack us, we must counterattack. However, launching an attack on the Iranian mainland would be a major escalation and a mistake at this time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Regarding the aid to Israel that you are backing, the prime minister stated last night that this will be a prolonged war. However, you heard from Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, that they still need to pose specific and challenging inquiries to the Israeli leadership, such as what are their plans moving forward? What is their ultimate goal?


J.D. VANCE: Of course. Of course.

Is this concerning to you? Some may argue that certain conditions should be placed on aid. Is there unlimited financial support for Israel?

J.D. VANCE: It is definitely a concerning situation. The fact that 1,500 Israelis were killed by Hamas is alarming. We need to show respect for our allies who are not requesting ground troops, but simply asking for weapons. We should also acknowledge their strategic priorities and trust in their knowledge of their own country.

The objective is not to have an infinite answer.

Margaret Brennan: This is inside Gaza.

According to J.D. Vance, the Israelis have carefully planned and are specifically targeting Hamas in their operation. We should trust our Israeli allies to know what they are doing in their own country.

Margaret Brennan: The US government has not been given an explanation yet, according to the national security adviser. So, you are giving them the benefit of the doubt.

J.D. Vance: Certainly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I would like to discuss one situation where you are not willing to assume their innocence, and that is with Ukraine.

J.D. VANCE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We just heard the new House speaker. You have some similarities with him in terms of separating out Israel aid from Ukraine aid.

J.D. VANCE: You are correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: However, he did mention, “we cannot let Putin succeed in Ukraine because I do not think it would end there. We will not desert them.” Which aspect of this statement do you disagree with?

J.D. VANCE: Well, nothing is objectionable in the sense that if I could wave a magic wand and throw Putin out of Ukraine I would. But what we have to accept is there’s a difference between what should happen and what can happen. America has limited capacity.

For instance, in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are approximately 300,000 artillery shells that the Israeli government desires to obtain. However, they are unable to do so because these weapons were previously sent to Ukraine. This situation is due to the increasing threat posed by China in East Asia. Unfortunately, this means that the Taiwanese are unable to receive the weapons they require because they were also sent to Ukraine.


J.D. VANCE: Our attention needs to be directed. That’s my main point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Regarding that –

J.D. Vance requests that you please.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Portion of it, though, Leader McConnell spent a good amount of time talking about, of the $60 billion for Ukraine, it’s actually kind of mislabeled because $45 billion of it is for some of this industrial policy, including artillery manufactured in Ohio.

J.D. VANCE: Certainly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In Ohio, there is a company that manufactures tanks and combat vehicles, General Dynamics. Would you oppose this if it were beneficial to your state?

“I believe in the benefits of state assistance, but we must approach this policy with caution, Margaret. We cannot expect to instantly restore America’s industrial power with the flip of a switch. It will take time and effort.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you support the investment in industrial growth?

J.D. VANCE: I prioritize investing in America’s industrial development for the sake of our national security, rather than giving billions of dollars to Ukraine before we have even strengthened our own industries. We cannot –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why not make that the main priority?

J.D. VANCE: Yes, we should. That’s precisely what I mean.

Prior to Israel.

J.D. VANCE: Our focus should be on strengthening America’s industrial foundation and directing resources to our reliable allies, such as Israel, and addressing the growing danger in East Asia.

My main argument is that, despite efforts to revive our nation’s industrial strength, we lack the resources to sustain a three-way war. We must prioritize and concentrate on Israel and Taiwan.

Senator, there is more to discuss with you, but we need to pause for a moment.

J.D. Vance: Of course.

Unfortunately, I must conclude our conversation at this point.

We will return shortly.


Margaret Brennan: Marwan Al Ghoul, a producer for CBS News, resides in Gaza and is speaking with us over the phone.

Marwan, I understand that it may be challenging to communicate with the rest of the world at this time. Can you provide any updates on the situation since Israel has increased its operations in Gaza?

Marwan Al Ghoul, speaking over the phone, expressed that life became even more miserable when communication was cut off. The war has made matters worse, as airstrikes often result in casualties and injuries without any means of calling for help. Even the victims themselves are left unaware of who has been killed or injured.

If all communication was severed in Gaza, life would become extremely difficult.

This morning, I drove from Rafah in the south to the north of Gaza. In Gaza City, I noticed deserted streets and widespread destruction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Marwan, are there any areas that are deemed safe? Is there a location that can provide shelter?

Unfortunately, there is no secure location in Gaza. Many displaced individuals have sought refuge in overcrowded schools, where they endure a miserable existence without adequate water, food, or sleeping arrangements. The living conditions are extremely unhealthy and it is difficult to fully convey the hardships faced by those living in these schools.

Margaret Brennan reported that the United Nations has stated that there is a breakdown of order and people are in a state of panic. There are shortages of food and water.

I am in agreement, Marwan Al Ghoul says.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Regarding essential items.

Marwan Al Ghoul stated that people went to the United Nations stores this morning and broke the doors to take food such as wheat and water. However, the amount of food obtained was not sufficient. The people also broke the gates and lifted the blockade to access more food. He expressed that the people are angry and it takes several hours to obtain bread, which is a crucial source of food for them. The situation is truly unfortunate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Marwan, can you tell us about the availability of medical supplies and the current situation in hospitals? Who is currently being wounded?

Yesterday, I was at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza Strip. I observed that all of their beds, including those in the departments and ICU, were occupied. The most critical patients were kept inside, while others were placed in tents outside the hospital in the garden. Some patients with serious injuries were even lying on the ground. It is hard to put into words the scene I witnessed.

The healthcare system in Gaza is on the brink of collapse. Performing procedures is extremely challenging. Normally, there is already a shortage of doctors, but now multiple patients arrive at the hospital simultaneously.

Can you compare the current situation in Gaza to past conflicts?

I have been reporting on the ongoing conflict since 1988, but this is unlike anything I have ever witnessed or covered before. It is truly terrible.

Prior to the current conflict, specifically in 2014, the Israeli military would typically issue a warning to civilians to evacuate their homes before destroying them. However, in the current situation, there are no warnings given and houses are suddenly struck, resulting in the deaths of all occupants. This marks a significant departure from previous wars in the Gaza Strip.

Reworded: Margaret Brennan sends her prayers and well wishes to Marwan Al Ghoul, a CBS producer residing in Gaza, urging him to prioritize his safety and that of his loved ones.

MARWAN AL GHOUL expresses gratitude twice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will return shortly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Robert Mardini. He’s the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and he joins us from Geneva.

Good day, sir.

What is the amount of assistance that has been delivered to Gaza today?

ROBERT MARDINI (Director General, International Committee of the Red Cross): Good morning, Margaret.

Today, we received three extra trucks filled with medication, first aid kits for war injuries, and surgical supplies for hospitals. These supplies are in high demand, along with some water and sanitation equipment. Additionally, six trucks were delivered on Friday.

This is a positive development, but it is a small contribution in comparison to the immense needs in the Gaza Strip and for Gazans at present.

Can you explain how you ensure that aid provided by the U.S. to organizations like yours actually reaches the people in Gaza and doesn’t end up with terrorists, as expressed by a Republican senator on our program?

Robert Mardini, a representative of a humanitarian organization that has been in Gaza for many years, stated that they operate directly and independently. They have their own staff who provide aid and services to carefully selected individuals and institutions, including hospitals like Al-Shifa where their surgeons work closely with Palestinian surgeons. They have strong measures in place to ensure that aid reaches those who need it most.

Margaret Brennan: Earlier today, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported receiving threats and had to evacuate their hospital due to an impending bombardment. Did Israel notify your allies about this situation? What is currently taking place?

Reworded: The evacuation orders currently taking place in the Gaza Strip are causing problems for us. Our hospital, Al-Quds, has nearly 400 patients, many of whom are severely injured. Additionally, there are thousands of civilians seeking shelter in hospitals.

The laws of war and international humanitarian law provide protection for hospitals. It is unacceptable for hospitals to be bombed, and patients should not die while receiving treatment. Evacuating hospitals is a challenging task, especially when there are vulnerable patients, such as infants in incubators, who cannot be disconnected from life-saving equipment. Similarly, it is not possible to simply evacuate patients who require oxygen unless there is a viable alternative in place. Unfortunately, such alternatives do not currently exist in the Gaza Strip.

It is the responsibility of all parties involved in the conflict to guarantee that essential services for civilians are available at all times. This responsibility should not fall on organizations like ours or the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You remain impartial. You have been in communication with Hamas. On Friday, there was optimism for a potential release of hostages for humanitarian reasons. However, that did not happen. Do you still hold the belief that a release is possible?

ROBERT MARDINI: Let me just start by saying that – to the – to the families of hostages, that the plight of their loved ones is one of our top priorities, that we are in conversation with Hamas, with Israeli officials, and with others to ensure their safe release. We have been also proposing to visit hostages in order to ensure that they get personal medicines or simply that they can exchange messages with their loved ones.

We are prepared to assist in the release of any individuals and hope this will occur. Currently, we have successfully helped in the release of four hostages and we are prepared to aid in more releases once the parties come to an agreement.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We pray that there is a positive outcome for the families of the hostages. Thank you for your time.

We will return shortly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: As the war between Israel and Hamas enters its fourth week, we asked our Holly Williams to reflect on the magnitude of the story and how the unimaginable is now reality.

(Begin VT)

The initial impact of the October 7th attack was hard to comprehend, both for Israelis and for us.

Holly Williams (on camera): This incident is being likened to Israel’s September 11th tragedy.

HOLLY WILLIAMS narrates: The massacre in Israel was unexpected, as civilians were targeted in their own residences. This caught us by surprise as well.

HOLLY WILLIAMS (on camera): What was the length of time they had been preparing for this?

The individual believes that the planning for this event likely took place over a year, possibly even longer. The perpetrators were highly skilled and knowledgeable in the use of weapons, resulting in significant destruction. It is evident that they were well-prepared for their actions.

HOLLY WILLIAMS (narrator): For numerous Israelis, it evoked traumatic memories of the Holocaust.

FEMALE: Is this Almorg (spelled correctly)? I love his smile.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: Almorg, the son of Aret Mayor (sp?), is thought to be one of the individuals being held captive. He appears in a Hamas propaganda video.

I recognized him from the start.

Holly Williams (on camera): How were you feeling at that specific moment?

WOMAN: Terrified.

Holly Williams narrates that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been ongoing for many years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Hamas will come to realize that their decision to attack us was a grave mistake with significant consequences.

HOLLY WILLAIMS: Three days after the assault, with Israeli air strikes raining down on Gaza, and Palestinians paying for Hamas’ actions with their lives, the militants threatened to start killing the hostages, one by one, every time Israel bombed Palestinian civilians without warning. We held our breath. So did Israel. But, instead, Hamas began to release some of the hostages. Around 200 are still pawns in a high-stakes game of blackmail.

When in southern Israel during a time of war, it is necessary to take cover whenever Hamas launches rockets.

Holly Williams (on camera): We have just witnessed a succession of powerful explosions and quickly sought shelter here.

Holly Williams explains that the Iron Dome Air Defense System is able to shield Israelis from the majority of barrages.

There is no protection within the Gaza Strip.

I witnessed numerous fatalities, as recounted by MARWAN AL GHOUL.

HOLLY WILLIAMS: Marwan Al Ghoul, a producer for CBS News, resides in Gaza with his family and puts his life at risk to share the latest news. Marwan has greatly enhanced our reporting for more than twenty years and during our visit to Gaza, he has played a crucial role in ensuring our safety.

I worry about my family. This causes me to experience both anger and sadness at times.

Pain is a common experience between the Israelis and the Palestinians, while war and politics are the factors that create division between them.

(End VT)

Holly Williams was the one who brought us that report. Thank you to her.

Thank you everyone for tuning in. We will see you next week for Face the Nation. This is Margaret Brennan signing off.

Source: cbsnews.com